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How to throw the perfect summer dinner party, Galvin style

Hosting an upcoming soiree? Two award-winning local chefs reveal their top tips on how to take the stress out of entertaining

Above: Chris & Jeff Galvin. Image credit: Claire Naylor

Hands up who thinks hosting a dinner party is a bit of a palaver? *Puts up hand* Some people breeze through baking up batches of homemade vol-au-vents while others have pretty plating down to a fine art. Not this Muddy Editor. And, if like me, you need a little expert help in this area then never fear, the Galvin brothers (aka Chris and Jeff) are here. It’s time to give Karen a run for her money…

Go big or go home

Don’t shy away from large cuts of meat or fish and serving sides family-style. It will make the table look full and beautiful when it’s all laid out. It’s also very time efficient (and every minute counts when you’re hosting).

Bathtubs (!) at the ready

Make sure you have enough room in the fridge for the drinks you want to serve. Most people don’t have that much space left after unpacking all their party food and you need to be able to keep wine, water and soft drinks chilled. We’ve been known to throw ice in a big sink (and even bathtub) on occasion!

Mix it up

Image credit: Kim Daniels, Unsplash

It’s always good to have a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available. We’d recommend always having a nice white and red wine and perhaps a rosé as well. If your guests like beer, then definitely have some in the fridge. And, don’t just play it safe it with water and juices for drivers or guests who don’t drink, there are so many great low or non-alcoholic alternatives to beer and spirits out there. For example, you could serve a nice Seedlip and tonic as an alternative to G&T.

Ready, set, prep!

Image credit: Claire Naylor

Prepare as much as you possibly can in advance. A cold starter works well as you can have it plated up and ready to serve as soon as your guests have arrived – the same goes for puddings, too. This way you’re not tied to the stove and can spend more time with your friends and family.  

Tame the flames

If you’re BBQing your meat, fish or veg, pay attention to the wood or charcoal that you are using as they all will have a distinct impact on flavour. If you’re choosing wood, make sure that it’s sustainable and well-seasoned. Also, keep an eye on the temperature, too often people start grilling when the BBQ is too hot, which leads to a nasty char on the meat. You could even slow cook a large cut of meat on the BBQ ahead of time and then simply finish it off when you’re ready to start preparing the main course.   

Make it moody

Image credit: Nadia Valko, Unsplash

In our restaurants, lighting and music are really important when setting the mood. Why not string up some fairy lights or use candlelight to recreate a similar but more intimate feel. Make sure you have some nice ambient music playing in the background but remember you want to be able to have a conversation over the music without needing to raise your voice or strain to hear.

Lighten the load

If you’re hosting a big party, consider hiring someone (perhaps your favourite waiter from a local restaurant) to help with serving food, wines or simply doing the washing up. Alternatively, there are many sustainable options when it comes to disposable crockery and cutlery that would eliminate needing to wash up. 

Last but not least…

Focus on having fun and don’t overcomplicate things! An experience is memorable because of the people you share it with. 

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